Donor gives $5 million to ECU College of Business

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GREENVILLE, N.C. – An exceptional $5 million gift to the East Carolina University College of Business will transform the school’s graduate program and attract more students. The donation from alumnus Tom Arthur ’71 is among the largest in the college’s history, akin to the Miller School of Entrepreneurship.

“The remarkable generosity from Tom Arthur will allow the College of Business to expand and enhance its education of students and bolster its reputation for producing successful business leaders. It’s wonderful to have donors who believe and invest in ECU’s future in such a considerable way,” Chancellor Philip Rogers said.

In addition to strengthening graduate-level education in the College of Business, a portion of Arthur’s gift will be used to support student veterans and military personnel in the program. This could include leadership, travel, or internship experiences as well as financial incentives to make enrollment affordable and appealing to military-affiliated students.

“ECU has been very friendly to veterans. I wanted to make sure the College of Business would be military-friendly,” said Arthur, an Army veteran. Arthur returned to his hometown Greenville after serving in Vietnam and enrolled in ECU’s MBA program in 1969.

“The first best decision I made was to go into the military. The second was attending ECU,” Arthur said. “Those two things really prepared me for life.”

Arthur made a previous $1 million gift to establish the Thomas D. Arthur Distinguished Professorship in Leadership in 2010. His cumulative giving is the largest of any donor to the college.

“Over the years, Tom Arthur’s financial gifts have elevated our faculty, and his appearances at our annual Business Leadership Conference have inspired many students,” said Paul Schwager, dean of the College of Business. “With this new gift, his legacy will be imprinted on the many lives that turn to the College of Business to grow their personal career path.”

After completing his MBA, Arthur became vice president of a Florida-based investment banking firm. He then joined Havatampa Corporation in Tampa. In 1978, he formed a group to buy Havatampa’s cigar manufacturing business and grew it from the sixth to the second-largest cigar manufacturing company in the United States.

Arthur was a majority shareholder until the company’s sale in 1997. Since then, he has been engaged in private investments through ASAP Capital Partners, his family financial firm. Now retired, he and his wife, Dixie, divide their time between Tampa and a ranch in Wyoming. He currently serves as an emeritus board member of the BB&T Center for Leadership Development at ECU and on the board of the Special Operations Warrior Foundation.

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